The woods were showing autumn tints
Of crimson and of gold;
The sunny days were growing short,
The evenings long and cold:
So the swallows held a parliament,
And voted it was time
To bid farewell to northern skies,
And seek a warmer clime.
Southward with glad and rapid flight
They flew for many a mile,
Till in a quiet woodland glen
They stopped to rest a while:
A streamlet rippled in the dell;
And on a hawthorn-tree
A robin-redbreast sat alone,
And carolled merrily.
The wandering swallows listened,
And eagerly said they,
“O pretty bird! your notes are sweet:
Come, fly with us away.
We’re following the sunshine,
For it is bright and warm:
We’re leaving winter far behind
With all its cold and storm.
“The iron ground will yield no food,
The berries will be few;
Half-starved with hunger and with cold,
Poor bird, what will you do?”
“Nay, nay,” said he, “when frost is hard,
And all the leaves are dead,
I know that kindly little hands
Will give me crumbs of bread.”